Impressions

by Cochran

Two Little Words Still Worth Using

Thank You!

In this age of online engagement, these two little words have never been more important. Rather than launching campaigns, business owners now work to spark conversations with their customers.

However quickly the tools and strategies may change, these two little words will always add value. Be sure to include them in your next conversation.

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November 21, 2011 Posted by | business, creativity, design, design thinking, Marketing, Online Marketing, social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Quick Steps To Effective Marketing

Today, effective marketing is more about brains than it is about budget. Whether you’re a start-up or an established company, you’ve no excuse not to jump into the fray. Here are 4 quick steps to finding your marketing sweet spot:

  1. Prototype like crazy. Faster experiments mean better results.
  2. Measure, but don’t over-measure. Use your gut, too.
  3. Re-tool and correct. Adaptability is key.
  4. Repeat.

The bottom line? Just get started. Today’s pace doesn’t allow for stragglers.

July 20, 2011 Posted by | business, design, design thinking, Marketing, prototyping | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Design Thinking: Methodology, Mindset or What?

Chamber musicians perform trio sonata

Image via Wikipedia

During the past several years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring design thinking. I’ve read inspiring and insightful books and blogs on the subject, heard in-person keynotes by design thinking experts including Claudia Kotchka and Roger Martin, attended a design thinking conference, engaged in numerous online discussions around the topic and have had many face-to-face conversations with others on this often elusive topic.

My still looming question: Is design thinking a methodology, a mindset or something else?

David Kelley, a founder of IDEO and co-founder of the d.school program at Stanford, in a video interview with Reena Jana of Business Week, stated that design thinking can be learned. Design thinking is not a new methodology, according to Kelley, “it used be to be called design.” Companies are finally recognizing the value of design and many are working to make design thinking part of their corporate DNA.

I tend to agree with Kelley in that design thinking can be learned. But, at the same time, I feel that design thinking is a mindset. According to the World English Dictionary, mindset is defined as “the ideas and attitudes with which a person approaches a situation, especially when these are seen as being difficult to alter.” If this is an accurate definition, then I’m convinced that design thinking also falls into mindset mode.

OK, so design thinking is both methodology and mindset. But, which comes first? How does one acquire the design thinking mindset?

In my case, design thinking has been a way of life for as long as I can remember. At the age of 10, I (luckily) embarked on a path towards becoming a serious classical musician. That meant years and years of developing both sides of my brain and, just naturally, blending analytical thinking with intuitive thinking.

Of all the arts, music is the one which best grooms the mind in that hybrid way. During tens of thousands of hours in the practice room, a musician taps into a blended skill set of analysis and intuition. In learning a new piece or re-learning a piece from our past repertoire, we prototype hundreds of times. That prototyping is done alone, with a teacher, in rehearsal and then again during each actual performance of the work. Whether in a chamber music ensemble or in an orchestra, the nimble musician combines what he has analyzed with what he has prototyped and then adds the layer of intuitive thinking so necessary when interacting with other musicians onstage.

So, for some, design thinking seems to come naturally. Design thinking is a blend of years of learning, prototyping and doing.

What are your thoughts? Are there other fields of study that naturally train us in design thinking? I’d like to hear from you.

March 6, 2011 Posted by | business, creativity, design, design thinking, Innovation, music, prototyping | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dog Days Are For Reading

What 'cha reading?

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been reading this summer (so far). I encourage you to comment and share your summer reading recommendations.

  • Change By Design by Tim Brown
  • The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage by Roger Martin
  • In Pursuit of Elegance: Why The Best Ideas Have Something Missing by Matthew E. May
  • ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  • Wired To Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy by Dev Patnaik
  • How To Be A Brilliant Thinker by Paul Sloane
  • Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler
  • The Connectors by Maribeth Kuzmeski
  • The Silver Lining by Scott Anthony
  • Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems Are Its Greatest Advantage by Adam Richardson
  • Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity by Rita Gunther McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan
  • Seizing the White Space: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal by Mark W. Johnson
  • The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz

July 19, 2010 Posted by | business, design thinking | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life Lessons: The Music of Business

One year ago, one of my articles was published in an educational magazine of interest to high school and college-aged flute students and their teachers. (My former career was as a classical musician.) I had written the article not long after the passing of the well-known and highly-respected French flutist, Louis Moyse, my teacher and musical mentor of 30 years.

I came across the article again a few days ago and was taken by the fact that the musical “Life Lessons” I had shared with other flutists can easily apply to those of us in today’s business world.

What follows are 10 of the many memorable quotes I remember from Louis Moyse, followed by my translations. To apply the lessons to business life, I have added just a few words to my original writing and have shown them in parentheses.

  1. “This is your territory — mark it!” Find your place in the (business) world and make the most of it!
  2. “Start from nothing. Then, allow yourself to grow.” — Make knowledge and self-improvement your lifelong quest.
  3. “Don’t be a flutist; it’s much more important to be a musician.” — Look at the details, certainly, but don’t forget to focus on the broader (business) picture. Think strategically.
  4. “It may be marked ‘Grave’ but it’s not necessarily about death!” Don’t make things out to be worse than they really are.
  5. “You must learn to be your own teacher.” — You are responsible for your own destiny. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
  6. “You need to suffer!” With (business) experience comes understanding.
  7. “Be more free, like a sheep. Sometimes it helps not to have too much brains (sic),” — Trust your (business) instincts.”
  8. “There is no such thing as ‘instant flute’. You have to work at it!” — Success (in music or business) is not supposed to come easily.
  9. “Sometimes, the most difficult thing is to do nothing, —  Some things (in business) are best left alone.
  10. “Make it simple.” Clear straightforward (business) communication has a power all its own.

If you’re interested in reading the original article in its entirety, please email me: rebecca@cochrancreativegroup.com

January 12, 2010 Posted by | business, music | , , , , , | Leave a comment